(Photo: John McCoy Daily News)
The Los Angeles Lakers picked up their biggest win of the season against the team with the NBA’s best record in the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday, shocking them and the basketball world with the 115-105 victory.
Adding to the degree of difficulty for the Lakers they played without their leading scorer Kobe Bryant who was out to rest and following a string of poor games where Bryant has been incredibly inefficient from the field and turnover prone.
Without Bryant, the Lakers looked great and put together the best 48 minutes of basketball this season. The Lakers shot 51.7 percent from the field and a blazing hot 12 for 26 from 3. The Lakers had 7 players finish in double figures, led by Carlos Boozer who finished with 18 points off the bench. Player and ball movement was brisk and plentiful for the Lakers who finished with 28 assists on 46 made field goals.
The player that stepped up the most in Bryant’s absence was Ronnie Price who had one of the best games of his 10 year career. Price finished with 17 points which is one shy of his career high. He also had an exciting stretch where he nailed 3 straight 3-pointers in the 3rd quarter.
Steph Curry came in averaging 30.5 points, 12.5 assists, 4.5 rebounds and 2 steals against the Lakers this season. Almost as dominant against the Lakers as Curry, Klay Thompson came in averaging 29.5 points while shooting 65.5 percent from the field and 50 percent from 3. Neither player was able to get it going on Tuesday, Curry and Thompson finishing with a quiet 22 and 18 points respectively.
With such great success playing without Bryant the obvious question after the game was this going to be a regular occurrence going forward.
“I think this is something that has to happen periodically,” Lakers coach Bryon Scott said. “You’ve got to remember, this is 19 years in this league; that’s an unbelievable career. I don’t care how much his mind is willing. You’re not going to be able to play 82 games at the level that he is accustomed to playing. So sometimes, you have to give him days off as well as games off.”
It is yet to be seen if the time off will actually help Bryant with the fatigue issues he has been dealing with during games but we’ll soon find out when the Lakers face the Chicago Bulls on Christmas day. Bryant will have had 3 days rest which up to this point this season hasn’t had great results. In the 2 games this season where Bryant had 3 or more days rest he is averaging 15 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists and shooting 28.6 percent from the field and 12.5 percent from 3.